52km – Three Peaks Plus One

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Twice the Pain, Twice the Gain

2020 is the inaugural year of this exciting new event. Showcasing the best of Dunedin’s trails and mountains, the Three Peaks Plus One (3P+1) includes nearly all the iconic 26km Three Peaks route with a big detour. The extra 26km adds in an extra mountain with a brutally steep climb, some beautiful single track through native forest, a river crossing and a wee bit of mud.

This is a tough mountain race that should only be considered if you have previous mountain marathon or ultra experience. If tough is what you are looking for then you won’t be disappointed!

Carefully read all of this race information. It contains important information about the race and times you need to meet to ensure you make the start (and finish!!). All runners must register and attend the race briefing and have their gear checked before being allowed to run in this event.

Entries for this stunning event will be limited to 100 ‘lucky’ runners, so get in quick!

Course Description

This is an extremely challenging 52km endurance event with about 2500m elevation. Distances are approximate. The course will be well marked with marshals at aid stations and key intersections.

Leg 1 – Woodhaugh to Bullring (8km)

The race starts 6am at the Malvern St/Woodhaugh Street intersection by the bridge over the Leith, the route goes via Ross Creek reservoir, Waikari Road on to the Pineapple Track, up up up to Flagstaff Summit. It’s all very well maintained single track with some beautiful views of Dunedin lights when you get above the bushline. The post at the top of Flagstaff marks your first summit at 670m and then you carry on down the other side to the Bullring.

Leg 2 – Bullring to Tunnel Track (7km)

Cross over Whare Flat road and pass through the gate on to Longridge Road. This is the fastest 7km of the course. It’s a steady downhill on the forestry road which is a great place to get your fastest ever 7km if you want to smash your quads early on. At the bottom of Longridge Rd turn right at Whare Flat Road. The start of Tunnel Track is about 200m up the road on the left. Aid station will be there.

Leg 3 – Tunnel Track to top of Powder Ridge (9km)

Now the fun stuff starts…This is the longest and toughest leg of the race with 3 stream crossings, lots of mud, a brutally steep uphill as well as some beautiful native bush trails. And stunning views along the ridge as you near the top. Tunnel track follows an old water race that used to be part of the city water supply. Leaving the water race, follow the markers over a hill in a forestry section and then drop down again to join the water race again. Markers will then direct you down into the valley and along a short section of 4WD till you reach Silverstream. Cross Silverstream at the weir – a marshal will be here to watch you get your feet wet – then follow the nice slushy muddy track for nearly 1km until the sign labelled Long Ridge/Mt Allan. Turn left and start the climb up the 5km of Powder Ridge… you might not want to run this bit as in the next 1km you will climb over 220m. After that it ‘flattens out’ so you only have 250m extra to climb before you reach the Aid station at Long Ridge. There’s also a bit of mud… and a handy rope when it really gets steep.

Leg 4 – top of Powder Ridge to Hightop (7km)

Go up Long Ridge all the way to Pulpit Rock. Watch out for cut stumps and the gorse and broom on Long Ridge. After about 3km you reach the intersection with Silverpeaks Track just below Pulpit Rock. This is your second ‘summit’ (almost) so enjoy the view! TURN RIGHT on to the Silverpeaks track and follow it down Green Ridge about 4km to Hightop and another aid station.

This section is the jewel in the crown in terms of stunning views, single track, and native bush as well as exceptionally changeable weather. It could be really hot. It’s much more likely to be really really cold! The track is technical in spots so please slow down to enjoy the views so you don’t fall off. Photo stops are a good idea too. Watch out for trampers and be nice.

Leg 5 – Hightop to Swampy Summit (6km)

From Hightop run along Swampy Ridge track which passes through some manuka scrub and about 2km of fairly muddy track. Remember those smashed quads? They will be really useful hopping through some ankle deep mud sections before climbing through tussock and flax up to Swampy. The track opens out on to the 4WD road at the Northern Swampy Tower, follow the road past the alien looking Doppler installation that marks your 3rd summit and highest point at 739m. Carry on until the markers turn you left to join the standard Three Peaks course and the Swampy aid station at the Southern tower. 

Leg 6 – Swampy Summit to Leith Valley (4km)

Faster runners will probably catch some of the 26km runners from now on. Follow a bit of the Leith Saddle track down the hill and then through the flax chute through to the Pylon 4WD, turn left and you can fly down this bit until the end where you enter the Morrisons Burn Track. This has some steep muddy downhill sections – enjoy gravity and the trees to catch hold of. It’s not long then you are on a forestry access road that leads you on to Leith Valley.

Leg 7 – Leith Valley to Mt Cargill (5km)

Only one more mountain to climb! Run, on those smashed quads, up Leith Valley Rd about 1km then take a right turn at Dryden Rd. This takes you over the bridge across the motorway then turn left along the farm track then up the steep hill through the farm paddocks, into Mt Cargill forest tracks and 4WD roads. Follow the markers and you will come up on to Cowan road. Turn left and carry on up to the summit of Mount Cargill and the last aid station. (Please note this section includes private land and cannot be used in training.)

2020 UPDATE… as we are running in lambing season (thanks Covid!) we are unable to go through the farm paddocks. So, carry on up Leith Valley Rd (instead of turning off at Dryden Rd)  for another 800m, then turn right into a beautiful little track that leads into the forest to join up with the old course. 

Leg 8 – Mt Cargill to Chingford Park (6km)

From Mt Cargill summit you get to enjoy gravity once again with a 4km descent down some single track to Bethune’s Gully. There’s only about 2 km on the flat after this so you may as well completely destroy whatever remains of your quads on this descent. Follow the road out onto Norwood Street. Run down Norwood for about 1km then turn right into Tannidice St and left into Dryden St, over the footbridge and into Chingford Park for the sprint finish across the sports ground to the sounds of hearty cheers!

Well done! You deserve a medal!

Compulsory Gear List

The compulsory gear list is here for your protection and safety. The following items MUST be carried

  • Headlight 
  • Small day backpack
  • Rain jacket – it must be seam-sealed waterproof.
  • Merino or thermal long sleeve top
  • Long thermal tights or trousers (compression leggings are not acceptable). Poly-prop or merino are the norm.
  • Warm beanie or Thir Band! (Multifunctional head-ware)
  • Warm gloves
  • Survival blanket/bag
  • Own snacks, gels, energy bars etc
  • Water bottles/bladders – enough to carry at least 1 litre of water (there will be no cups available at water stations).
  • Whistle
  • Phone (optional but strongly recommended).
  • Gear checks will be carried out at registration and spot checks will be carried out at the Tunnel Track aid station.

Registration and Briefing

Al runners must register, have gear checked and attend race briefing on Saturday March 28th at Chingford Park pavilion.

Registration and gear checks 4:30 to 5:30. Briefing at 6pm.

Gear Drops

Clothing can be left at start line at Woodhaugh Gardens, they will be taken to the finsh line at the Leith Harrier Club Rooms at Chingford Park for your collection

Aid & Water Stations, Toilets

Water, electrolyte (Nuun), and snacks will be available at the following aid stations but there will be no cups. Bring your own cup or bottle.

  1. Bullring
  2. Tunnel Track (CP)
  3. Powder Ridge (CP)
  4. Hightop (CP)
  5. Swampy (CP)
  6. Leith Valley
  7. Mt. Cargill (CP)

Portaloos will be available at the start line and at Tunnel Track and Leith Valley aid stations.

Cut Off Times

To ensure the safety of our competitors and marshals, the 3P+1 has cut off times to make it to certain stages of the event by certain times. In the event of any runner missing the 3P+1 cut off times/locations (listed below) they will be offered a ride back to the start/finish line as soon as an organisers vehicle becomes available

These will be strictly enforced

  • 12:30pm Hightop track intersection
  • 1:30pm Swampy Summit
  • 2pm Leith Valley
  • 4pm final cut off at Mt Cargill

Race Rules

3P+1 athletes must have prior mountain running and marathon distance race experience. This is not an event for novice runners

  • All competitors are required to check-in and pick up their race number on Saturday evening
  • While checking-in, every competitor must get their mandatory gear checked. All essential gear must be carried at all times. It can get very cold very quickly on these hills. There will be spot gear checks at the start of the race and at the Tunnel Track checkpoint
  • Always listen to the advice of marshals. They are there for your safety. Also be polite and say thanks. They are wonderful people who have volunteered their time for your pain and pleasure
  • If you pull out for any reason you must report to officials at the finish line. Otherwise our wonderful volunteer marshals will be waiting and looking for you all day and night
  • Please don’t drop any rubbish and if you see any that may have been dropped by another runner please pick it up.
  • All tracks are open so please be respectful of other track users.
  • All roads are open. Please be alert and keep to the sides
  • No headphones/earbuds are to be used during the race. There’s lots of native birdsong to enjoy
  • Race numbers are to be visible at all checkpoints
  • Cut off times will be strictly enforced. Our wonderful volunteer marshals don’t want to stay out there all day and night
  • If you come across another competitor in trouble stay with them until you know they are safe
  • Please be familiar with the race map. There is a downloadable .gpx file that you can use with the BikeGPX App on your smartphone to show if you are on the course. This is optional but a really good idea
    • Go to this link on a computer: https://bikegpx.com/routes/6069310e
    • In bikeGPX on your phone: “Select Route”, then “Add Route”, then “scan a bikegpx.com route barcode”
    • On your phone, scan the barcode you see on your computer in 1
  • You are responsible for your own safety, not the race organisers

Course Map and Elevation Profile

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